Too good to check: Could Obama lose … Illinois?

posted at 2:01 pm on August 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Look, I’m a pretty sunny optimist, but this stretches even my credulity.  A pollster in Illinois believes that Mitt Romney can win Barack Obama’s home state, thanks to a mediocre performance in Cook County by the incumbent, and outright hostility outstate:

A poll conducted by Illinois-based pollster and political strategist Michael McKeon found Obama leading Republican Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 37 percent in Cook County, the home of Chicago. That puts him ahead by a far thinner margin than expected in a county he should be winning handsomely.

Cook is the most Democratic leaning county in the state. It is also the most populous. …

According to the poll, which surveyed 629 registered voters last week, Obama’s problems are not in Chicago proper, but in suburban Cook County.

In the city of Chicago itself, he retains a 60-29 lead over Romney. But the Republican challenger leads 45-38 in the surrounding areas. Across the county as a whole, Romney leads 43-31 among independent voters, a crucial voting bloc. Romney also holds a 44-38 lead among male voters, and a 53-40 lead among white voters.

Who’s Michael McKeon?  He’s been around Illinois for decades and runs McKeon and Associates [see update II].  The data on the poll isn’t provided by either The DC or by McKeon’s website, so it’s impossible to vet this more closely.  Suffice it to say that a relatively new pollster can still produce sterling results, but we don’t have much of a track record by which to compare this poll, nor any other recent Illinois polling.

If this poll is accurate, it would obviously be embarrassing to Obama to have to spend a lot of money and attention on his own home state.  Republicans nearly won the gubernatorial election after the conviction of Rod Blagojevich, and Mark Kirk won the open Senate seat in 2010, but the state GOP still needs to do a lot of work to make themselves competitive in the Land of Lincoln.  If Obama really ended up losing Illinois, it would almost certainly be because of a national landslide that would make Illinois a historical footnote.

On the other hand, Democratic pollster PPP warns that Romney has taken a slight lead in Wisconsin — and that might indicate an overall heartland problem for Obama:

We’ll see more when PPP releases the results tomorrow.

Update: From a reader in Chicago via e-mail:

[A]bout a week or two ago I started to see Obama commercials running in the Chicago area and thought to myself, what a waste of money.  Why is Obama spending money on ad buys in a state he has no chance of losing?  Hmmm.

Sometimes, campaigns run ads to stoke fundraising efforts … but still

Update II: My friend Michael Flynn at Breitbart tells me I have the wrong Michael McKeon — it’s not the one from Mercury, but from longtime Illinois institution McKeon and Associates.  I’ve corrected the post above.

Update III: Other readers think that the ads in Chicago are probably aimed at the area in southern Wisconsin (and maybe western Indiana?) that rely on Chicago broadcast stations.


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Obama’s problems are not in Chicago proper, but in suburban Cook County.

The poll is fatally flawed. It didn’t survey a single dead voter. That’s a constituency that can’t be ignored in Illinois.

malclave on August 20, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Other readers think that the ads in Chicago are probably aimed at the area in southern Wisconsin (and maybe western Indiana?) that rely on Chicago broadcast stations.

As P. Monk said, one wouldn’t be wise to do ultra-expensive Chicago media to reach Kenosha as it is technically part of the Milwaukee media market. Never mind that there are a lot of Bears fans down there as Chicagoland (and Metra commuter rail) has spilled over the border.

Then again, if one wanted to stay off the Milwaukee talk radio radar screen and still reach Kenosha (union town, rather-heavy ‘Rat) and, via cable as I don’t think the digital signals reach, Racine (same), one would do Chicago media.

I rather suspect it’s a national ad buy.

As for the other part (Romney barely leading in PPP’s poll to be released tomorrow), the trend is our friend.

Steve Eggleston on August 20, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Could Obama lose … Illinois?</blockquote.


GarandFan on August 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Comment of the Day™

Steve Eggleston on August 20, 2012 at 7:31 PM

The idea of paying Chicago rates to advertise in those smaller markets seems rather ridiculous. It also seems like a spin in the works. If OFA is spending for that purpose, then they are lost.

peter the bellhop on August 20, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Not a chance. This state is full of people who aspire to what they see as powerful successes who “got theirs.” Illinoisans vote for transparently corrupt pols not because Illinoisans can’t see the corruption. They vote for them because they admire someone who’s made it “to the top” not withstanding corruption. Illinoisans freaking aspire to that kind of “success.”

It’s pathetic.

rasqual on August 20, 2012 at 8:34 PM

As a lifelong illinoisan… it is not impossible. This state did go for Reagan twice.

Now the state has been pretty blue, mind you, but we’re not Cali or NY. We elected Mark Kirk and the other statewide races in 2010 were whisker-close, including those for control of the state legislature.

If 2010 was not the GOP high-tide, it’s just barely possible Illinois could go red. Remmeber, most people here barely know Barack, he served all of 2 years as Senator.

TallDave on August 20, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I said it in another polling thread – don’t be surprised if Illinois is close, if not a Romney pickup.

A few polls from some Illinois state senatorial districts have come out in the last few weeks – albeit these were from Republican campaigns done by Republican pollsters – showing weakness in areas where Obama defeated McCain handily in 2008.

I’d have to go dig up the info, but I do recall in one downstate district that covers Decatur and part of Springfield, Romney held a 54-45 advantage. This district went 60-39 to Obama in 2008.

italianguy626 on August 20, 2012 at 9:50 PM

On the other hand, if the nasty campaign dampens turnout in Crook County, where the Democrats normally get paid pretty well for their votes, you could get a result that looks like the 2010 Governor’s race.

Nice county map, Governor Quinn, you maggot. Click on Illinois to see how many counties the esteemed Democrats won.

Jaibones on August 20, 2012 at 9:52 PM

As a resident of Illinois my experience is being born when FDR took office and hardly knowing a Republican. Today every one is supporting Romney. It is hard for me to believe this race is supposed to be neck and neck.

Herb on August 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Well, since PPP is a cohort of DailyKos, could we have a breakdown of sampling on their polls from those “in the know” about these things?

Now PPP has Brown up 5 over “Lie-awatha Liz” Warren in Massachusetts.

But what’s the sampling on these PPP polls? They recently sampled Republicans by a huge amount in the Missouri Poll on Akin v. McCaskill to give Akin a 1 point lead; are they doing the same in all of these polls to encourage complacency on the part of GOP voters, maybe?

mountainaires on August 21, 2012 at 4:15 PM